The historic Monte Carlo street circuit has undergone changes for the 2003 Monaco Grand Prix, but will it make the track easier for drivers? Last year’s race winner, David Coulthard, gives his views…

The historic Monte Carlo street circuit has undergone changes for the 2003 Monaco Grand Prix, but will it make the track easier for drivers? Last year’s race winner, David Coulthard, gives his views…

Minor circuit revisions have made the circuit 27 metres shorter but the race will still be staged over 78 laps. The main alteration is around the Swimming Pool complex, with a tighter left turn going in and then the track running closer to the front of the harbour on reclaimed land. The entry to Rascasse, where many drivers have slid off in the past, especially when the track is dusty, has also been widened.

The precarious barrier at the inside of the first turn, Sainte Devote, has also been removed, although the kerb is still there. In the past, several cars that clipped the inside barrier have been pitched across the road into the tyre barrier on the outside.

“The track looks a lot more open at Rascasse but I'm not going to say easier in case I go into the wall,” Coulthard said. “It does look a little less challenging, though, which could be a shame because that was a challenging part of the track. On the other hand, it could give us some more opportunity for overtaking.”

Coulthard is hoping to deny Michael Schumacher a record-equalling sixth Monaco Grand Prix this weekend. The narrow circuit offers very little in the way of overtaking opportunities and McLaren-Mercedes will be hoping to cancel out the Ferrari F-2003 GA’s outright speed advantage by finding the optimum strategy for the race.

“The tight Armco barriers and lack of run-off areas mean that judgement is based in millimetres rather than centimetres when racing in the Principality,” Coulthard added. “There is no margin for error. But that just adds to the unique challenge this track offers.

“As I live in Monaco, the race is like a second home Grand Prix for me, and it is also the event that all drivers want to win, because of its prestige. I have had the pleasure of securing two victories here, last year and in 2000, and hopefully I can make a hat-trick this coming weekend.